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What Are the Fees to Transfer Points to Airline Partners?

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My favorite kind of points are those that you can transfer to numerous different programs. The three key transferable-points programs that I bank to are Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. I love educating fellow travelers about these programs, so I was glad when TPG reader Therese messaged me on Facebook this week with the following question:

“I want to book a United award ticket and was told there was a charge of $15 per transfer of 1,000 Ultimate Reward points to my United account. Is this correct? Thank you!”

Therese, I’m happy to report that you’ve been given false information. If you transfer United miles to another United account, you’ll be charged a transfer fee of 1.5 cents per mile and a non-refundable, per-transaction processing fee of $20; transfers can be made to a maximum of three accounts in one transaction. Rest assured, though, that you do not pay fees when transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to United, or for that matter, to any of the Ultimate Rewards travel partners

Most transferrable-points programs don't charge fees to transfer points to airline partners - with one exception (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)
Most transferrable-points programs don’t charge for partner transfers – with one exception.

There are also no fees when you transfer Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints into airline miles. However, American Express Membership Rewards will charge a .06-cent excise fee per point when you transfer to US frequent flyer programs. For example, if you transfer 50,000 Amex points to Delta, you’re going to get hit with a $30 transfer fee. (Note that the Amex transfer fee is capped at $99 per transaction.) To minimize these fees and maximize your Amex points, transfer your Membership Rewards to foreign frequent flyer programs like British Airways Avios.

I hope this answers your question, Therese – and good luck on your United award booking!

If anyone has additional questions, please message me on Facebook, tweet me @ThePointsGuy, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 0% Excellent Credit